A beautifully coloured and flavoured Kashmiri Chai that satisfies the soul. Step by step photos + videos, and tips and tricks for the perfect colour and how to store it in the post!
Bonus: there's a quantity cheat sheet in there too!
Most of the Kashmiri Chai I have had in my life has been served to me in styrofoam cups. Sometimes it was ladled into them late at night at winter time mehndis with the pulsing rhythm of dance performances in the background and others it was graciously filled by a family member while the loud buzz of excited chatter enveloped the room.
In either scenario it’s presence makes the evening feel more special, styrofoam cups or no styrofoam cups.
Pssst another great cozy drink idea is my Phitti Hui Coffee or Whipped Coffee with the best time saving hack! If you are a creature of nostalgia like me then this Caramel Custard and this Coffee Cake are totally worth checking out!
Table of contents
What does Kashmiri Tea taste like?
Kashmiri chai is a rich, slightly floral, milky tea with the bright underpinnings of minced nuts, the sweet headiness of cardamom, cinnamon (and even star anise). It tastes rich, luxurious, and when done right it’s absolutely lovely.
Does Pink Tea have Caffeine?
Kashmiri Chai is brewed from green tea leaves which have caffeine so Kashmiri Chai definitely does too! Green teas can have between 30-50 mg of caffeine. For comparisons sake regular tea clocks in around 30-35mg.
Why do you call it Pakistani Kashmiri Chai?
The qualifier exists because what we call Kashmiri Chai is actually not entirely authentic to Kashmir.
This does not pretend to be that!
Truth: I used to call it Karachi Style Kashmiri Chai, but then my Lahori friends and those from other parts of Pakistan pointed out that they too make it exactly this way!
What goes in Kashmiri Chai?
Kashmiri Green Tea Leaves - the star, please buy tea leaves labeled as Kashmiri for optimal results
Salt - for that distinct umami
Baking Soda - to help facilitate the pinkness
Cardamom, Cinnamon and/or Star Anise for rich aroma
Milk - because, you know, chai.
Minced nuts - almonds and pistachios - for warmth and flavour
Why is Kashmiri Tea pink?
Science my friends is a wonderful thing.
During the first cook the green tea leaves react with alkaline baking soda to create a maroon base for the tea. Then when you add ice cold water you essentially shock the tea into preserving its colour, and then aerate to enhance it.
My fellow cookery nerds will appreciate this article fully explaining the process.
Level with me: Do I need to cook it for this long?
Short answer: YES.
Am I being dramatic with the tepid water analogy? Only a little.
As the tea leaves for this Pink Tea simmer away they release their flavour into the kahwa. Given that the entire simmering process is hands off please let the tea leaves do their thing and give you the wonderful cup that you deserve.
Steps to Making the Kahwa
Kashmiri Chai is often over complicated, but let me break it down for you to show you how straightforward it really is.
Step One: Combine all the kahwa ingredients in the pot and bring it to a boil.
Step Two: Simmer for about an hour to reduce by half, if you need ten extra minutes then take them!
Step Three: Turn the stove off and strain the tea leaves (watch the colour!)
Step Four: Pour in the ICE COLD water and aerate with a ladle (or look below for an alternate idea) - this is the only hard part. Spend a good 5-7 minutes ladling the tea from a height, the colour of the kahwa and especially the foam as it hits the water will change.
TIP: I often do this in my sink to contain stains from splashing!
Your Kahwa is ready!
Storing the Kahwa:
This recipe (which can be easily halved) makes a generous amount of kahwa. You can store it in the fridge for upto two weeks. However, if you want to make a smaller quantity refer to the graphic below!
Making Kashmiri Chai from the Kahwa:
For every one cup of tea you want to make simply take ⅓ cup kahwa, bring it to a boil stovetop and add ⅔ cup milk to the mix. Bring it to a simmer, add in the nuts and serve with some sugar on the side.
As the kahwa sits over time the shade of pink the tea takes on will change, but it will still be delicious.
Tips and Tricks for Perfect Kashmiri Chai
Here are some must read tips if you are making it for the first time!
- Although I believe certain brands of green tea can produce this beautiful colour you are best off using Kashmiri tea leaves. And not the ones in your cabinet for 2+ years.
- Start brewing your tea with cold water
- Shock with the coldest water you can to produce that beautiful color
- Don't skimp on the aerating, 5-8 minutes will turn the froth on top a foamy pink
- Make sure you actually simmer the kahwa and milk together for at least 2 minutes. The milk affects both colour and taste - generally I prefer evaporated milk here, but know of people who use half n half as well
- Test a small quantity first so that you know the tea ‘works’.
- Flavour - the aromatics you use will greatly impact flavour. Usually it is some combination of whole cardamom, cinnamon sticks, and badiyan ka phool (star anise). I love it best with cardamom, but know that at weddings in Karachi Badiyan ka Phool is often used.
- Help! It isn’t Pink!: okay folks, deep breath. Odds are it still tastes fine, but if you want you can always add a little more baking soda to your kahwa (tiny amounts please) to see if that helps the colour. Too much and you will ruin the taste!
- Too late - it’s a Baking Soda Flavored Nightmare: Oops. Okay so here’s what you can do - we are going to add a few more pods of lightly bruised cardamom and fat pinches of nuts, give it a simmer, and then strain out the nuts and cardamom pods. The combination of the two should cut the bitter after taste.
- My Hands Hurt: When I ladle the tea and watch it pour back into the cup it feels like meditation. However, normal people don’t feel this way. I have tested many other ways to aerate the tea. My preferred method for tired days is using an electric beater in a very deep bowl. If not the kahwa splatters everywhere and you will spend more time cleaning up than you would have aerating by hand
If you make this recipe do take a few seconds to rate it! I would love to see your recreations so tag me on instagram @flourandspiceblog !
- 6 tbsp Kashmiri Tea Leaves
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- ¼-1/2 tsp salt
- 5-6 Cardamom Pods
- 1 Badiyan ka Phool (Optional)
- 1 small piece of cinnamon stick (optional)
- 2 cups ice cold water (I mix mine with ice)
- finely chopped pistachios & almonds
- Add all the ingredients except the ice cold water to a pot with 8 cups of cold tap water.
- Bring to a boil, simmer for one hour or until the liquid is halved, it's okay if it reduces a little more but please do cook it down.
- Sieve the green tea leaves out.
- Now get ready for a work out. Pour the ice cold water from a height into the tea concentrate.
- Pour back and forth from bowl to bowl or use a ladle to drop it back into the bowl from a height to aerate the tea. I suggest doing this in your sink or a prepped surface area since it does splash a bit.
- After a full 5-8 minutes of doing this the foam the tea produces will take on a rich bodied pink
- Bring the tea mix back to a boil, bring to a boil. The "kahwa" is ready.
- To make each cup of tea: Take a ladle (about ⅓ of a cup) of the kahwa, bring to a boil, add ⅔ cup milk and a splash of water. At this stage I like to throw in an extra cardamom pod too. Cook for 2-3 minutes and serve topped with a scant spoon of crushed pistachios
- This makes a generous amount of kahwa, for smaller quantities refer to the infographic in the post!
- In the original recipe I had suggested cooking for two hours for the large quantity, but after experimenting a few times with the quantities I think about an hour or until the kahwa halves works
Like Kashmiri Chai? How about Phitti Hui Coffee? It's another favourite drink of ours - especially when you can make it in minutes! Also don't forget to save the Pink Chai recipe for later!